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Part of USS Arcturus: Non Nobis and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Act III, Scene 2

USS Arcturus, Shuttlebay
May 2400
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The doors to the shuttlebay slid open to allow Commander Navarro a last glimpse of one of the Volga-class runabouts leaving the bay. Not much bigger than large personnel shuttles, the Volgas had squared off hindquarters and could easily handle two or three-week excursions away from the mothership. Navarro watched as it pierced through the faint blue forcefield that kept the air inside the shuttlebay before the massive central door started to roll down into place, the attention alert sounding the entire time. They needed all the space they could for refugees, so the largest of their embarked craft—the ones that could keep up with the Arcturus reasonably well—had all been launched. The hanger decks under the bay were already filling up with Romulan passengers.

“Halo 10 is away,” the flight systems officer reported through her combadge, just as the door closed completely with a clunk and the forcefield shut off.

Navarro tapped her badge. “This is Navarro. I want enough space past the doors for us to recover them for refueling. Otherwise, start setting up for emergency housing, please,” she ordered.

The newly promoted commander was not yet accustomed to running one of the largest departments on the ship, even though she’d spent a year and a half serving as deputy to Alesser; he hadn’t ever been one to delegate too much, and it was a learning curve to now be the decision-maker. In theory, the Arcturus could beam aboard 1,500 people every hour, but it had been over sixteen hours since they began the process, and there were still several thousand aboard the Ditaria, the D’Deridex-class warbird they were calling Cardinal 1. Damage to the ship and residual problems caused by radiation, plasma fires, and other hazards had slowed them down significantly, as had finding the space for them. Navarro usually relished challenges like these, but she was ready for the scramble to be over. 

Satisfied that no new crises were brewing down in the shuttlebay, the operations officer turned on her heel and walked back towards the turbolift. She was late for a staff meeting, but the adrenaline rush that might have once sparked in her was missing. When Navarro arrived, Captain Lancaster was speaking to Commander Odea over the holographic communicator in the briefing room. 

“I want that third warbird taken off the board. We have enough to worry about without rogue actors,” Lancaster ordered.

“Understood. They can’t evade us forever,” Odea replied from the bridge of the Hokule’a. “I suggest that we use the runabouts to form a tachyon detection grid around Arcturus and Cardinal 1 in the interim.”

Lancaster turned to look at Isethos, their Andorian tactical officer. 

“It’s a sound tactic, Captain,” Isethos confirmed. “Without a localized area for the Hokule’a to search in, even active tachyon sweeps will be quite ineffective. We need more information on that ship, but Starfleet Intelligence doesn’t have anything specific in the database.”

“Number One, get the tachyon detection grid in place,” Lancaster ordered. “Lieutenant Najan, Oban is claiming to have intelligence related to Romulan fleet deployments, is he not?”

“He is,” Najan confirmed.

“Please stress to him that anything he can tell us to help avoid future attacks is in his interests now as much as it is ours,” the captain replied; Navarro hadn’t been in the loop fully on their potential defector, but she could see Lancaster clench his jaw out of frustration.

“I’ll relay the message, sir. It’s a pity that the other two warbirds self-destructed, as we could have recovered their computer records,” Najan noted.

“And could have saved their crews,” Counselor Sharma interjected.

Lancaster held up his hand to prevent Najan from taking the bait, which was probably a good thing since all of the crew were stressed to the breaking point, even if the fireworks might have been amusing as a spectator. “Navarro, where are we on evacuations? I don’t like sitting here out in the open.”

“Things are speeding up, sir. I estimate we’ll be ready to depart in two hours,” she replied. “We should be able to catch up with the convoy on their last stop before reaching the colony.”

“Good. I don’t want us this close to capacity for any longer than we need to be,” Lancaster said. 

The faint praise was enough to make Navarro beam, as she knew that it was good as anyone could possibly get from the notoriously critical Lancaster. With the captain and first officer both being operations officers—and the ex-oh being her immediate predecessor—she felt pressure to not just be good but exceptional. 

Alesser also nodded in her general direction. “Staffing levels are becoming a little more problematic, though. I never thought I’d see the day where a crew of this size just doesn’t have enough bodies to go around, but we’re at minimum staffing in science and tactical to give medical and security the people they need,” the first officer explained.

Isethos’s antennae twitched at that statement. “Yes, captain. We may be unable to fully crew every battle station in the event of another engagement. Phaser and torpedo stations are set to automated, for the moment.”

The captain nodded. “Very well,” he said, drumming his fingers on the table for a moment.

“Sir, we may be able to find volunteer medics and runners from the refugees,” Navarro suggested, thinking about how having something to do would give a lot of their passengers a sense of purpose and hope. “We could train them on basic first aid.”

“I think that’s an excellent idea,” Sharma noted.

“At this point, it’s worth a shot. Please organize it, Counselor,” Lancaster said. “Does anyone have anything else?”

Sharma spoke up. “Just to say, sir, that Lieutenant Sarcaryn’s procedure saved his life, but he’s still in quite a critical condition, mentally as well as physically.”

The officers around the table were quiet for a moment as they processed that.

“Thank you,” Lancaster said, looking around at the others. “We may be straining right now, but sickbay gets whatever they need for his care. Dismissed.”

Comments

  • The tension on board is palpable, to say the least. Every stressed-out character is felt in the way you have written this chapter; right down to even the refugees. I am glad that you have mentioned Oban and other aspects from previous chapters. I feel that is mostly left out as people rush to send chapters out. Keep up the great work and writing and I look forward to the next chapter and seeing how the crew of the Arcturus and her wards, the refugees get along.

    June 25, 2022